Monday, October 12, 2009
My grandfather was the President of the Japan-Pakistan Association when he was alive. I think it's called something different now but the Japanese trading company that he was President and Chairman of had a lot of business in Pakistan and I remember my grandmother telling me often that he was away in Islamabad or Karachi. I honestly have no idea if the business he was conducting there was good for the people, exploitative, or a little bit of both. I have wished on many occasions while reading or watching the news that he was around to tell me about his experiences in other countries but most likely he would have brushed it off because I am a girl. He was very traditional that way. When I was growing up in the late 70's to the early 90's he was flying around the globe to Moscow while it was still the USSR, Johannesburg while it was still under apartheid, and I'm pretty sure I remember him going to Iran, Bangladesh, India, Brazil, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zeland... the list could go on.
Anyway, back to Pakistan. I was watching two videos up on the NY Times website today about a family in the Swat Valley. The father had been running a school for girls for fourteen years and his young daughter was a smart girl that wanted to become a doctor. They had to leave their home though because of the Taliban. The Taliban had ordered the school closed and the rights of women to even just go out shopping had disappeared. It made me so sad to watch these little girls that didn't want to leave their homes and their school and how much they just wanted to learn. Of course Three Cups of Tea is one of my favorite books and Greg Mortenson is one of my heroes. The author is an American that has been building schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan for over ten years. The strange thing I learned today was that both my grandfather and Greg Mortenson had received the Sitara-i-Pakistan "Star of Pakistan" award. It is one of the highest honors given to civilians by the country for service to Pakistan.
I find it odd that I was given a first rate private education my whole life, partially paid for at some points by my grandfather whose money was partially made in Pakistan, where still today, girls are struggling to go to elementary school. To me it's bizarre and I find that I grieve for these girls there more than I do for other unfortunate people in other countries, probably because I feel some familial connection. I'm not exactly sure what I wanted to say with this post but take a look at the NY Times videos if you have the time.